Agriculture is booming but star could fall
Published 27/09/2011 | 05:00
The Ploughing Championships have become the fish bowl that the rest of the country peers into once a year for a peek at their country cousins.
It also provides the perfect one-stop shop for the normally urban-centric media to tap into the collective conscience of the agricultural sector.
So it was somewhat predictable that in the scramble for the soundbites that would sum up the scene, phrases such as 'bumper year' and agriculture being 'the new star' would be bandied around.
It is refreshing to have such positive messages coming out of the sector, and it is giving young, aspiring farmers massive confidence, which can only be a good thing for securing future generations of farmers.
But there is also a rising concern among farmers, especially those who've seen successive 'new dawns' in agriculture come and go many times before, that the good times in farming could be in danger of going the same way as the property boom that gripped the country not so long ago.
Farmers are feeling very bullish about their prospects over the next 12 months as China in particular and Asia in general continue to drive demand for every type of food.
Those dairy farmers who are still on the right side of 40 and have potential to expand are probably the most confident people in the wider farming sector right now. Even if prices came back slightly, he or she feels that the scope for expansion over the coming years will more than compensate. They are being told that Ireland, with its ability to grow plentiful amounts of grass, should be one of the most cost-competitive places in the world to produce milk.